Dear Church Family,
June is here, and I have been on a “Sabbatical” for several days now. Sabbatical. Traditionally, this word has been used to describe a period granted to a worker to “rest, study, travel, learn…”. It is related of course to the word, “Sabbath”, “So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished His work of creation, so He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when He rested from all His work of creation”. Genesis 2:1-3.
Now, I have not been creating worlds in six days nor have I been creating anything of much magnitude. Yet, I am grateful for this time of rest. I have struggled with being able to say that I am tired. It seems weak. It feels like I have failed in a life of temperance (not that I HAD a life of temperance), you know, as Adventists, we are supposed to know how to do it right. Nutrition. Exercise. Water. Sunlight. Temperance (there you are…) Air. Rest. And Trust in God. We have been taught that if you do all these things in the right amount i.e., “temperance”, then our lives would be whole, and we would never fail. To “need” a Sabbatical has been the challenge.
Now, after four years of political devastation, COVID-19, death of my father-in-law, moving, family changes, it has been an interesting time. A long time ago I heard a young pastor at Andrews University preach a sermon where he said that the devil does not care what you are busy at (good or bad) if you were too busy for God. Too busy to hear His voice. Too busy to truly “keep the Sabbath”. And if I had to describe the last many years, then I would have to say that they have been busy with both good and challenging.
For Elijah, his Sabbath was forty days in the making. He descended from Mt. Carmel on the heels of a great victory. He had seen the power of God in the fire and then in the return of the rain. But in his coming down from the high of working with God, Jezebel scared him. And he ran for forty days into the wilderness. Alone, so he thought. Tired. Burnt out. He needed a Sabbatical.
“…but the LORD said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ Elijah replied, ‘I have zealously served the LORD God Almighty. But the people…I am the only one left…” 1 Kings 19:9-10. You know the story. A might windstorm. An earthquake. A great fire. A gentle whisper. And then the repeated question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And a repeated answer, “I am alone…”
He was not alone. God had 7000 “Elijah’s” listening to Him! In the middle of our drought, in the fire on the mountain, there is a “gentle whisper” that we need to be hearing. Windstorms and earthquakes and fire are great attention getters, but God is in the whisper. God is in the Sabbath, in the rest.
When the disciples questioned Jesus about His methods in Matthew 13, Jesus said, “you are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge.” V. 11-12.
In these last days, these trying times, it is in the “listening” that we will hear the voice of God, not in the doing. Take some time and rest and listen along with the “7000 others”. That is what I will be doing.
In His Matchless Love,
Tim Mayne, pastor